Moqueca can be made in many ways in Brazil and still be worthy of being called that way: you can have it with fish, shrimp, squid, shellfish or anything your imagination will allow. However to be worthy of being called as “Bahian”, a few local ingredients usually need to be present… ingredients such as coconut milk and dendê are frequently seen in recipes from the Bahian cuisine. Here is a recipe from the Bahia state that is easy to make, for 5 guests.
Yield: 4-5 servings
Bahian Fish Stew Recipe
* 2.5 lb. (1.125 kg) white fish fillets (can be tilapia, red snapper, hake, whiting, sea bass or grouper)
* 2 red bell peppers
* 2 onions
* 2 tomatoes
* 1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk
* 4 tablespoons dendê palm oil
* 2 tablespoons cornstarch
* 1 bunch fresh cilantro (coriander), thoroughly washed
* salt and black pepper to taste
* 3 cups liquid fish stock
1) Roast the peppers directly on the burner of the stove or gril and allow their skin to char completely: make sure the red bell peppers are charred all over.
2) Remove from the burner and immediately place them in a sealable plastic bag until they have cooled. This trick allows the charred skin of the peppers to peel off easily: clean them well, slice in strips and set aside.
3) Separately, mix the coconut milk to the fish broth. Dilute the tablespoon of cornstarch in cold water, then pour this in the broth. Mix well and simmer until the volume has reduced by half; reserve.
4) Heat up a pan (traditionally, a clay “capixaba” pan) with the palm oil poured in. Fry the onions, slices in strips the colored palm oil will give a nice golden color to the onions.
5) Add the mixture obtained from the broth with coconut milk. Now add the fish. When trying this recipe, we used whiting fish. Season with salt and pepper to taste
6) Add the peppers and cook until fish is fully cooked (this varies according to the fish and the thickness of the fillets and can go from three to ten minutes)
Meanwhile slice the red tomatoes to 1/4 inch slices. Two minutes before removing the stew from the heat, add in the tomato slices letting them sink in (no mixing).
7) Finally, when ready to bring this dish to the table, put the cilantro leaves in - letting them float on top so they will remain visible.
You are ready to serve your delicious Bahian Moqueca; we suggest to accompany by farofa and rice, in pure Bahia tradition!